Diabetes now afflicts those in their 20s

BANGALORE: Type 2 diabetes, believed to afflict the 40-plus age group, is growing younger. Patients are now increasingly in the 20-29 age group.

Of the 12,782 persons who underwent diabetes screening in the past year for a study conducted by a diagnostic lab, 2,713 (21%) suffering from high sugar levels were aged 20-29 years. It’s a clear indicator that Type 2 diabetes — attributed to genetic causes and lifestyle — is affecting the youth.

A recent case which made doctors sit up was a 17-year-old CET aspirant, who was first diagnosed as a case of Type 1 diabetes. The diagnosis was later changed to Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is seen in children and adolescents where the body’s malfunctioning affects insulin production. “Because he was so young, he was first treated by a general physician for Type 1 diabetes. More tests proved his was a case of Type 2 diabetes. The causes were increased stress levels due to exam pressure, improper dietary habits, obesity and other lifestyle changes,” said Dr Praveen Ramachandra, adult and paediatric endocrinologist from Columbia Asia hospital.

The study revealed that lifestyle issues are making youngsters more prone to diabetes.

“We were surprised to see many youngsters having high sugar levels, with borderline diabetes. In the initial stages, there may not be any symptoms. When screened, we figured out the need for exercise and healthy dietary habits for such persons, many of who are men. The age group of 20-29 years was so far a grey area, and there was no preventive medication so far. There is need for further research in this area,” said Dr HN Ravi Kumar, managing director of RV Metropolis.

The survey drew material from diabetes screening camps conducted across Bangalore from April 2012 to June 2013. “Such patients need proper counselling,” Dr Ravi added.

Two employees of the Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development were found to be suffering from Maturity Onset Diabetes of Young (MODY). “The employees, aged 28 and 29, were suffering from MODY caused due to genetic abnormality, and are on treatment now,” said Dr Ravi.

The study was conducted by RV Metropolis Diagnostic and Healthcare Centre.

‘Am I diabetic?’

When youngsters are told they are diabetic, they receive the news with disbelief. This young techie was no exception.

“I started losing weight drastically. I’d feel tired all the time, and this affected my work. When I visited the doctor and gave several tests, I was told my blood had high sugar levels. I’m suffering from Type 2 diabetes,” said a 28-year-old software architect.

“The first line of treatment is diet and regular exercise. I’m on that,” he said.

Scary stats

12,782 persons underwent diabetes screening

13.61% (1,739) persons had very high sugar levels (160-500 mg%).

5.92% were women

7.63% were men

3% were in 0-9 age group (juvenile diabetes)

5% were 10-19 years old

21% (2,713) with symptoms of diabetes are in 20-29 age group

(Source: RV Metropolis study)